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Old September 21st, 2007, 08:38 PM   #401
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Canopy may yet be built at cultural hub
21 September 2007
South China Morning Post

A controversial idea that forced the government to shelve its original plan for the West Kowloon reclamation district has been revived.

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said last night that the government had not ruled out building a huge canopy atop the 40-hectare waterfront site at the southwestern tip of the Kowloon Peninsula, on which the government planned to develop an arts and cultural district.

But he was quick to add the issue would be decided by the proposed authority formed to manage the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Mr Tang said: "Whether there should be a canopy, how it should be built, or whether there should be a canopy on a smaller scale - we should leave this to the future [West Kowloon Cultural District] authority.

"We hope to set up the authority as soon as possible."

He was speaking after the first public forum, held at the Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui, on proposals released last week on how the long-delayed cultural district project should proceed. A three-month consultation began last week, almost 18 months after the original decision to award the project to a single developer and build a huge canopy as a landmark structure was abandoned amid fierce criticism.

When the new proposals were released, the giant canopy idea appeared to have been dropped.

But some of the 100 or so people who attended the forum expressed support for a huge canopy.

One said: "It is important to make the area all-weather, especially for street performances."

Some forum participants criticised the project as being a property development in disguise. Chu Hoi-dick, a core member of Local Action, said less than 40 per cent of the land would be for arts and cultural use.

Fellow activist Ho Loy said a discussion on a cultural district was academic when the government had not formulated a clear arts and cultural policy.

Two more forums are scheduled on October 24 at Tsuen Wan Town Hall and on October 29 at the Hong Kong Arts Centre.
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Old September 22nd, 2007, 09:42 AM   #402
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The canopy would be the icing on the mixed cake...
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Old September 25th, 2007, 08:01 PM   #403
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Conductor Edo de Waart begins a new season inspired by dreams of West Kowloon
23 September 2007
South China Morning Post

It's a day after the government announced its revised proposal for the West Kowloon Cultural District project and Edo de Waart is positively upbeat. According to the latest blueprint, HK$19 billion will be spent on building 15 arts and cultural venues, including a 2,000-seat concert hall, on the 40-hectare site. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by 2015.

"We are, of course, extremely excited," says the artistic director and chief conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO).

"If, in 15 years, Hong Kong has these new facilities on top of refurbished existing venues, it'll be basically second to none. That is quite something," he says.

By which time, the 66-year-old quips, his orchestra will have built an audience big enough to fill two to three concerts a week.

If recent figures are anything to go by, his optimism isn't misplaced. Since the veteran conductor took over the HKPO three years ago, the number of subscribers has more than doubled. Its average attendance rate for the past season was more than 80 per cent.

This week the orchestra will celebrate the start of its new season with Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, an opera-in-concert featuring a stellar cast including soprano Dagmar Schellenberger, mezzo soprano Michelle Breedt, bass Franz Hawlata and Hong Kong tenor Warren Mok.

The ensemble will then head north next month to perform an all-Wagner concert at the 10th Beijing Music Festival at the Forbidden City Concert Hall.

"In the last three years we've been able to turn around the quality of the orchestra and the playing and get more people to support us," says de Waart.

"In seven more years, when the concert hall opens, given our absolute commitment to continue this striving for excellence and better programming, we will reach even more people."

Audience-building is vital for the West Kowloon Cultural District's success. After all, there is little point building all these venues with no attendance. At the same time, the government needs to invest in nurturing local artists to ensure there are plenty of quality shows to draw crowds.

HKPO's chief executive, Timothy Calnin, says officials are aware of the importance of grooming local arts groups to complement the mammoth project: "They know that throughout this whole process of building, the resident companies have to be given every opportunity to evolve so that they are in good shape by the time the venues are ready."

De Waart's greatest concern lies in what kind of concert hall will be constructed and whether his orchestra will be involved in the building process.

"Of course, a concert hall needs to be thought of from the inside out, so who is going to put that design team together? How far do we get a say?" he says.

Citing as an example the much-lauded Symphony Hall in Birmingham, which was built by the late American acoustician and concert hall designer Russell Johnson in the 1980s, the Dutch conductor says its success was the result of a close collaboration between the designer, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and its then chief conductor, Sir Simon Rattle.

"There was a constant dialogue of what the musicians needed in the concert hall. I hope that part of the process doesn't get politicised here," says de Waart.

His advice to the authorities now is to identify venues in the world for opera and classical concert - including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, which is "the greatest new hall I've ever been in" - to look at how they are built and being operated.

He reiterates the importance of the HKPO having a permanent presence at the new venue: "For us it's an absolute necessity to do 95 to 99 per cent of our rehearsals on stage [where the performances will be held] and to really grow into the hall and benefit from it."

In the meantime, the company is working hard on its programming, which sets out not only to further elevate the standard of the orchestra and its existing audience but also to widen its reach and offer a comprehensive overview of the vast classical repertoire. Striking that balance, de Waart admits, is no mean feat.

"Michael Steinberg, programme writer for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, once told me that there are only about 45 hours of music in a season. I'd never thought of it that way," he says.

"In that 45 hours you want to make everyone happy. Also, although we are getting more mature, we are still in a building stage of an orchestra. We need to be playing works by composers like Beethoven, Haydn, Mahler and Mozart, which are the bread and butter of a symphony orchestra, and if we can play those well, then almost everything else we can play."

De Waart says among this season's highlights are this week's Der Rosenkavalier, William Walton's Henry V and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No6. The last piece is a continuation of his Mahler Cycle.

"Mahler Six is a fantastic piece. I think it's maybe the most depressing Mahler symphony. It's the one that doesn't end in hope or optimism. It's total despair and an incredible element of the human experience.

"What we know, of course, is that after that he wrote the Seventh Symphony, which ends with a blaze of optimism. So it didn't end there [at Six]; it's just a snapshot of a master at his absolute peak."

On a lighter note will be Walton's orchestral score of Henry V for the 1944 Laurence Olivier movie, as well as a tribute concert to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers entitled Let's Face the Music and Dance, featuring vocalists Susan Egan and Doug LaBrecque and dancers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward.

The orchestra will also continue to be a nurturing ground for young local talent, with a collaboration with music students at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in January. The piece chosen for their public performance is Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.

Seven young musicians from the mainland will also be joining the orchestra on the Robert H.N. Ho Foundation Orchestral Fellows programme for two years. De Waart says they are potential recruits.

"It's up to us to give them the best surroundings and support to make the most out of their two years of the fellowship," he says, adding that his ensemble and the aspiring artists will benefit from the exercise in the long run.

Der Rosenkavalier opera-in-concert, Sept 27 and 29, 7pm, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, TST, HK$160 to HK$580. Sung in German with Chinese and English surtitles. Inquiries: 2721 2030
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Old October 10th, 2007, 03:08 PM   #404
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2007-08's Policy Address:
Quote:
(8) West Kowloon Cultural District:
The West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) represents a major investment in our cultural and arts infrastructure. It is also a strategic plan to promote long-term development of arts and culture, supporting Hong Kong as a creative economy and Asia's world city. The integrated arts and cultural district will offer a mix of world-class arts and cultural facilities, talented artists, quality programmes and distinctive architecture to attract people in Hong Kong as well as from the Mainland and the rest of the world.

A public engagement exercise has been launched on the recommendations of the Consultative Committee on the Core Arts and Cultural Facilities of the WKCD. Our initial assessment shows general and positive public support for the early development of WKCD. The Government will introduce the bill on establishing the WKCD Authority in early 2008. We aim to have the legislation enacted in mid-2008 so that the Authority can be set up as soon as possible. The Chief Secretary for Administration will lead the work.

To fully realise the vision and mission of WKCD, the Government will co-operate with the cultural and arts sector in taking timely measures to foster the development of software and talent. We will invest more resources to implement the following key measures: reinforcing support to arts bodies of all sizes; comprehensively assessing the demand and supply of cultural and arts talent with a view to launching appropriate training programmes; promoting arts education and audience building; enhancing cultural exchange and co-operation; improving the management of performing arts venues; and, expanding "alternative art space" in the community for local artists to unleash their creativity while increasing the public's exposure to culture and the arts in their daily lives.
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 07:43 PM   #405
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Open spaces called for at new art hub
10 October 2007
Hong Kong Standard

Concerned groups want fewer luxury residences and more leisure areas for people to enjoy at the proposed 40-hectare West Kowloon cultural district.

Chu Hoi-dick of the Action Party told the Legislative Council's West Kowloon subcommittee yesterday that the reclamation area with luxury residential towers has became a closed community of the rich, causing grassroots people like himself to feel intimidated.

The site's future development should avoid building more residences and the space should become a cultural park which the public can freely enjoy.

Some organizations which supported the plan hoped the art hub can provide a better working environment for artists.

The Hong Kong Dance Company has been housed at a Municipal Services building for two decades, with members having to walk through a smelly wet market to access their rooms.

``We wish to work in a better environment which can stimulate artistic development,'' the group's artistic director Yuen Lap-fan said.

The Legco committee was also told that the future art hub authority's composition is still unknown and and its functions still undefined.

Lawmaker Margaret Ng called for a white paper to allow more transparent discussion of the plan. She said details of the authority should be revealed and openly discussed before the plan is tabled early next year.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 07:09 AM   #406
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Cannes push for cultural district
Hong Kong Standard
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying- yen's wish list is Hong Kong hosting a Cannes Film Festival-type event at the West Kowloon cultural district.

"Many people forget the cultural district can provide and has space for big cinemas," Tang said.

The cultural district will include a 1,000-capacity cinema and other venues for traditional Chinese arts, he said yesterday after meeting students and staff at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Asked whether the government is planning to build a mega cinema like the one in Cannes, Tang said mega cinemas could help develop Hong Kong's film industry and also host big film festivals. The Cannes festival is one of the world's most influential and prestigious.

Tang also said the government will invest in developing "software" such as cultural talents in line with the building of the "hardware" at the district.

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Esther Leung Yuet-yin said the future governing body of the district will include representatives from the cultural sector and the public.

Speaking at a Legislative Council panel meeting yesterday, Leung said the governing body will be set up after the three-month public consultation on the cultural project.

While the government has as yet no agenda on forming the governing body, she said "it must include some representatives from the cultural sector and the public."

She said the body will oversee the planning of the whole district and that each museum will have its own unique characteristics and management.

"Some venues or museums could even be managed by nongovernmental organizations," she said. The International Association of Art Critics raised the concern that there is not enough talent to administer and run the cultural facilities.

"Local talent must be brought into close contact and collaborate with international experts. This is a key prerequisite to making [the district] or any other new cultural institution truly reflective of Hong Kong's unique cultural perspective on an international scale," said association member Valerie Doran.

Leung admitted there is not enough talent to manage the museums and venues but promised the government would invest more in training.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 07:05 PM   #407
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西九展館遊客報大數
政府估二百萬人次 高外國逾倍

24/10/2007


特區政府矢志打造西九文化區為亞洲藝術殿堂,並估計西九的當代藝術展覽館「M+」每年遊覽人次高達二百萬人,昨日三十多個團體向立法會議員反映意見,其中香港博物館館長協會狠批當局高估入場人次,因外國著名博物館入場人次每年亦只有九十萬人,有議員更斥責政府「作數」。

立法會西九小組委員會昨日邀請三十多個團體,就西九項目發表意見。大部分出席的團體批評,政府缺乏長遠文化政策,只靠興建硬件無補於事,要求政府增加資源,加強培訓本地藝術人才。

團體憂不懂管理
香港博物館館長協會主席陳己雄表示,不少外國大型博物館的年入場人次亦只有九十萬,建議中的「M+」展品收藏量不及外國,港府竟然預算每年有二百萬人次參觀,實在太樂觀,他直言不可能做到。陳要求當局重新審視所有估算,又指日後成立的西九管理局需包括文化專業人士。醫學界立法會議員郭家麒亦質疑港府有「作數」之嫌,對香港博物館市場評估過高。

團體除了表達對西九入場人次的關心外,還質疑將來管理質素,有八年文娛管理經驗、現為藝術行政副經理的文化工作經理協會主席林子鏙指出,現行政府常額編制內,全港只有二百零一位藝術行政人員,大部分只有一至兩年經驗,由於一年需要管理四千多個藝術項目、二十幾個文化場地,連城市電腦售票網的管理也是工作一部分,但行業流失率甚高,公務員事務局又凍結招聘,以致過去十年,藝術管理人員已出現嚴重斷層,將來西九文化區投入運作後,人手不足的問題將更嚴重。

倡不同方式營運
民政事務局副秘書長梁悅賢回應指出,政府重視文化藝術及管理人才的培訓,亦會與旅遊事務專員合作,在海外推廣本地文化,開拓觀眾群。她又指出,政府倡議的西九管理局會根據個別博物館特色和需要,以不同管理方式運作。
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Old October 25th, 2007, 01:21 PM   #408
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Panel to manage West Kowloon arts hub may include laymen
24 October 2007
South China Morning Post

The government will consider inviting the public to join the authority that manages the arts hub in West Kowloon, a move that would address concern the body may become a bureaucracy.

Lay people and representatives of arts groups presented their views on revised plans for the development of the arts hub at the Legislative Council building yesterday. A three-month consultation on the plans ends in December.

Those present included people at the managerial level of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department who deal with cultural programmes and promotions.

At the hearing, the government was urged to formulate a comprehensive cultural policy, to integrate the arts hub into old areas, to establish an open and transparent authority and to develop the site in sustainable ways.

Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Esther Leung Yuet-yin said the new authority would work under a clear cultural policy and the government was still drafting the regulations.

"We will actively consider inviting the public to participate [in forming the authority]," Ms Leung said, adding arts groups and non-profit organisations would be invited to run various performing arts venues.

Some representatives expressed concern yesterday that the cultural sector did not retain local talent and urged the government to nurture more professionals for the future arts hub.

Associations of Managers of Cultural Services president Irene Lam Tsz-tsui said there was a lack of experienced cultural managers in the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

She said about one-third of the department's 201 managers had only one to two years' experience. Some were recruited on contracts.

Ms Lam said manpower had been a problem in the department since the quota for cultural managers was frozen 10 years ago. She said the 201 managers were also responsible for more than 4,000 cultural programmes and 900 promotional activities every year.

Visitor estimates for a flagship museum, dubbed M+, were also said to be over-optimistic.

Chan Ki-hung, chairman of the Hong Kong Curators Association, said a flagship museum featuring popular culture might not prove attractive to the public.

Mr Chan said the Heritage Museum and the Convention and Exhibition Centre also exhibited pop culture from time to time. Instead, a museum for children should be planned in the arts hub, he said. His view was echoed by the International Association of Art Critics.

Speaking during a session with about 300 teaching staff and students of the Academy for Performing Arts, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said the Western Kowloon Cultural District would provide facilities for the film industry. Premieres with audiences of up to 2,000 could be staged at the hub's venues.

But Mr Tang said the government would not provide as many subsidies for film development as on the performing arts because the former could attract commercial interest on its own.

The chief secretary said attracting and retaining talent was vital to the cultural development of Hong Kong.

Mr Tang encouraged the mainland and overseas students in the audience to stay in the city after graduation and contribute to the arts sector.
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Old October 31st, 2007, 12:05 PM   #409
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Height limits in cultural district 'should be eased'
6 October 2007
South China Morning Post

Plot ratio and building height restrictions on the West Kowloon cultural district should be relaxed to improve the project's integration with the adjacent high-rise buildings, several Town Planning Board members suggested yesterday.

They also proposed that more space be devoted to commercial activities and exhibition venues to keep up with demand. In an open meeting yesterday, the government submitted the proposal for the cultural district to the board for comment.

Board member Raymond Chan Yuk-ming said it would be difficult for "clusters" in the district to create a harmonious mix with the towering residential developments nearby if the suggested plot ratio of 1.81 was retained.

"Looking from the harbour, the gigantic buildings behind would look like a steep cliff. With such a plot ratio, it would be hard to create the desired descending effect towards the harbour front," he said.

Board vice-chairman Peter Wong King-keung said the government should make full use of the 40-hectare site to allow more commercial activities.

"The existing plot ratio is too low. The site is so close to Central, so it makes more sense to permit more exhibition venues and office developments," he said.

But the assistant director of planning, Anthony Kwan Tsoi-kwai, said the revised plot ratio was the result of public consultation.

"The public opinion is that the plot ratio suggested by the three bidders [in 2004] was too high. The government then decided to adhere to the existing level," he said.

The public consultation period for the cultural district proposal unveiled last month will last until December.

The proposal suggests the waterfront land house 15 arts and cultural facilities and about 23 per cent of the site be set aside for office and hotel developments.

Meanwhile, the board yesterday also endorsed a proposal which allowed the government headquarters to encroach on the open space zone at the Tamar site.

Raymond Young Lap-moon, the board's chairman, said the proposal, which featured an arch-shaped design known as the Door, would improve ventilation as well as preserve the required size allocated for open space.

According to a proposal submitted by the Gammon Hip Hing Joint Venture, the central government complex lower block and the legislative council complex would take up part of the land set down for open space.

But the total provision of open space of 21,020 sq m was still above the government's requirement.

During the meeting, board members also discussed whether the government would make the open space accessible for public use around the clock, as suggested in the plan.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 05:00 PM   #410
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HK in talks to host top arts show
Negotiations under way to bring Venetian Biennale to city

3 November 2007
South China Morning Post

The government is holding talks with the organisers of the Venice Biennale to have the world-class arts event held in Hong Kong.

The idea for bringing the show to the city is intended to boost the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District, according to sources close to the government. It would also help establish Hong Kong as a capital of international events and promote cultural diversity.

The arts show could be held in the city in 2009 at the earliest, the sources said, and officials are currently communicating with the organisers in Italy through a third party.

The sources said the government was prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars on the project. Details of the proposal, such as the venue and the type of exhibitions to be held, have not yet been finalised.

Since its foundation in 1895, the Venice Biennale has been one of the most prestigious cultural events in the world and draws participants from around the globe. It promotes the avant garde and has art, architecture, film, dance and music components. The Biennale's 52nd International Art Exhibition is now being held in Venice.

The press office of the Venice Biennale in Italy could not confirm that talks were being held to hold the event in Hong Kong. But its spokesman said the show had not been held outside Venice since the 1930s.

The biennale would be one of the biggest international events to be staged in the city following the World Trade Organisation conference in 2005, the International Telecom Union last year, the 10-year anniversary of the handover this year, the Olympic Games equestrian events next year and the East Asian Games in 2009.

"We want to keep Hong Kong as the capital of events in the region and to have the Venice Biennale held in Hong Kong could boost our status," a source said. "This could also help cultivate the growth of the arts scene in Hong Kong to facilitate the development of West Kowloon."

The sources said officials were also carrying out a feasibility study on how much the public would welcome the event.

Bernard Lim Wan-fung, professor of architecture at Chinese University, said he supported the idea of Hong Kong holding the mega arts show.

"Our city has all the necessary conditions for holding a biennale. Many people in the cultural arts field have been discussing it for a long time," he said.

Professor Lim said the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, Institute of Planners, and Hong Kong Designers Association would hold the first Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale for architectural and urban arts in December.

Ada Wong Ying-kay, a member of the consultative committee on the core arts and cultural facilities of the West Kowloon Cultural District, said it would be good to bring the international show to the city. But she said Hong Kong should also develop its own brand.

"Of course we can always spend millions to bring the Berlin Philharmonic and other big shows to Hong Kong. More importantly, we have to cultivate our own arts culture and encourage creativity," she said.

"But this society may be just too conservative to take the Venice show, given what has happened to G.O.D. over the past two days," she said, referring to the police raids and arrests of staff at the homewares store for selling a T-shirt printed with 14K in Chinese characters. "[The Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority] may have to turn a blind eye if the biennale comes to Hong Kong."
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Old November 7th, 2007, 08:05 AM   #411
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HK in talks with Pompidou Centre over West Kowloon
French complex could be part of the city's arts hub

7 November 2007
South China Morning Post

High-level talks have been held between the Pompidou Centre and the government about the French cultural centre taking part in revamped plans for the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Alain Seban - president of the centre, which houses a vast public library, the National Museum of Modern Art and a centre for music and acoustics research - yesterday met Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and Victor Lo Chung-wing, chairman of the West Kowloon museum advisory group, during a whistle-stop tour of the region.

He arrived on Monday night and was due to leave early today for similar talks in Singapore.

The Pompidou Centre was a partner in the Dynamic Star consortium, a joint venture between Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong (Holdings) and one of the developers that was bidding to run the cultural district until the Executive Council scrapped the "single-developer model" in 2005.

Last year, the leading contemporary art and cultural centre held talks with Shanghai about setting up a branch in the city's Luwan district instead. French media reported that the then president Jacques Chirac would ratify an agreement during an October visit to China.

But Mr Seban said this had not happened, as "the necessary information had not been passed to the central government" by Shanghai authorities and the museum's talks with Beijing had still not begun when he took the post six months ago.

"We find Asia very exciting and we would like to develop a museum somewhere in Asia, whether as a subsidiary, or with a counterpart," he said. "We are looking into all the various art scenes, and we have been watching the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District with great interest."

Talks about a Shanghai museum were continuing and, in Singapore, the Pompidou Centre was investigating the possibility of launching a museum under a long-term partnership arrangement, but Hong Kong was a "very much valued option" because of the government's dedication to building a new museum and other assets.

The government's revised plans for West Kowloon, which placed the project under a public authority and would inject subsidies of HK$19 billion into art and cultural activities raised through rental income from shops and housing within the district, were "very exciting" and similar to the French approach.

"I feel in full accordance with the vision that the Hong Kong government has developed so far," Mr Seban said. "It is something that we can feel comfortable with, but the bottom ground is feasibility. What we like is that the Hong Kong government is fully aware that a museum needs stable long-term financing.

"You cannot capitalise on the idea that it can break even on a commercial basis in the short run."

Mr Seban said he also favoured M+, the single mega-museum of design, the moving image, popular culture and visual art put forward in the revised plans in place of four separate museums. The Pompidou's involvement could extend to exchanges of knowledge, expertise and exhibitions, loans of art works and mounting joint exhibitions.

"That is exactly our model," he said. "The Pompidou is not just a museum. It brings together architecture, design, visual arts, performance arts, a library, which is the largest in Europe, and a research institute into acoustics. We very much share the same values and vision."
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Old November 10th, 2007, 06:40 PM   #412
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西九:文化政策機制?190億大白象?
10月 30日 星期二 05:10AM

【明報專訊】施政報告「十大建設」之一的西九文化區計劃,相對於推倒重來以前的方案有所進步。政府顯示了一些誠意,要將西九從地產項目變成文化項目。社會上最大的批評和憂慮,是當局未能提出

具視野的文化發展遠景和方向,以確保西九能夠真正成為香港文化發展的動力,於未來二三十年間在本地社會和社區締造多元開放的創作環境、培植具豐富養分的文化土壤和人才,以利全體市民在文化和精神生活方面的持續發展和全面提升,為香港成功變身為「文化都會」的願景作好周詳和長遠的準備。

民間兩個擔心

施政報告重視西九文化區的發展,指定由政務司 長統領這項工程,此舉值得肯定。政府當局願意為文化設施的硬件一擲千金,承諾向日後的西九管理局注資190億,在回應某些專門藝術組別當下需求之同時,卻未能讓公眾釋疑,因為民間社會根本的想法,和市民最大的擔心一樣,都有兩種:

1. 倘若文化都會的建設才是我們的共同目標,那麼,西九的城市規劃及文化規劃,將如何體現以人為本的文化精神和民主理念,為全香港社會和社區注入文化發展的動力,締造大家能共同擁有的實質的、活生生的,而非虛張聲勢的城市文化?

2. 在缺乏有效的痩策機制,缺乏有民意基礎的發展策略,缺乏具明確方針的軟件開拓和配套計劃之下,當局如何確保西九文化區最終將不會演變成豪宅區、遊客區,或者淪為另一種大白象?

在「民主」的論述和訴求日漸忙亂的今天,政府已不能光向市民說「你信我啦!」而不去認真面對政策製訂過程中的問責問題。雖然特首在剛發表的施政報告承認軟件發展的重要,但在目前缺乏清晰理路的文化政策製訂機制的情 下,香港要孕育各種文化藝術創作及專業管理人才,加強各層面觀眾的培養和教育,推行文化跟社區的連結、互動和相向發展,都是目標不清、方向模糊且困難重重的。

管理局不理文化軟件 令人失望

因此,要策劃及推行西九的具體計劃時,文化界與關心文化發展的民間社會都極度關注「西九管理局」在各個階段的職權、組成、代表性及有效運作。令人失望的是,根據諮詢委員會的建議,未來「西九管理局」的職權,並不包括發展文化軟件,或制定發展文化軟件的策略(見《西九報告書》8.2.1-8.2.5)。從有效的文化發展和管治的角度來說,「西九管理局」並不適宜以一般大型建設的營運模式運作(如機管局),因為這樣它與民間的智慧和需求之間將會拉遠距離,難以在文化規劃及創意發展方面起帶頭作用,促進民間多元互動的文化創意行為。

回歸10年以來,我們的文化發展長期處於一種混沌不明的困局與悶局之中。結果是,社會上的不同聲音和價值未能得到適當闡述、論辯和整合,政府當局亦未能充分發揮促進及協調的角色;因此,相關的公帑及社會資源未能有效運用,發揮最佳效益,具體和長遠的文化發展目標亦難以達到。譬如說,藝術教育究竟要達到什麼具體目的?觀眾的培養和發展又應該以什麼為目標?另一方面,場地的營運應該怎樣推行才對軟件的有效發展最為有利?而我們又該怎樣去「拓展多元化的文化環境」呢(《西九報告書》5.2.1)?以上,社會都欠缺討論,沒有共識。

西九的發展正好促使政府和民間共同探索,理解香港文化政策的不足和可能之處。西九是個難得的契機:它會讓大家都明白,文化藝術的具體事業,並非單一思維或線性發展所能概括,更不是簡單的高尚玩意或唯市場論的創意工業所能包含。要落實文化都會的計劃,我們必須設立一個有效的系統及機制,去梳理種種複雜的矛盾和問題。這樣的文化計劃必須啟動,城市生活有機發展的目標才會清楚,策略才會有效,效果才會彰顯。

因此,政府應牽頭促成一個高層次、有廣泛代表性、結合民間社會為主導的「文化發展委員會」或「文化發展局」,目的是統籌各個不同範圍的相關工作,集思廣益,使文化發展的工作更能對社會整體產生積極效果。這樣的全港跨階層跨界別的新組織,具體的目標有二:

1. 使社會上的不同聲音和價值得到論辯、協調和整合,有利梳理相關的文化理念和政策機制,為制定發展文化軟件的策略訂下方向和準則;

2. 使公帑及社會資源得到最有效的運用,以期政策的推行與落實,可逐步邁向大家所認同的共同目標。

組織成員應具視野、識見和認受性,並有官方、專業界、教育界、商界、民間社會,以及各層面的社區代表,達到真正以民間為主體,為香港文化的長遠發展按部就班地籌備和規劃。
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Old November 11th, 2007, 05:31 AM   #413
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Old November 11th, 2007, 07:44 PM   #414
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Plan for arts funding
6 November 2007
South China Morning Post

A transparent mechanism should be set up to decide how much funding each arts group will receive, the Home Affairs Bureau has proposed in a paper introducing a cultural policy for the arts hub in West Kowloon.

The bureau will also launch a manpower survey next year to assess the demand and supply for artists and arts-related professionals.

In a paper submitted to the Legislative Council, the bureau set out its policy to strengthen the development of cultural "software" and professionals in Hong Kong.

It said the process would be holistic, people-oriented, community-driven and pluralist, and would uphold freedom of expression and protection of intellectual property and emphasise partnership - six principles put forward by the Culture and Heritage Commission in 2003.

Internships could be offered to arts administrators if negotiations with British cultural institutions were successful, the bureau said.

The government promised to increase funding for arts groups when the public consultation on the arts hub began three months ago. The paper said that a new funding mechanism would be developed when the review of the existing one was completed by 2010.

The new mechanism will include criteria for the amount of funding allocated, including the artistic quality of the arts groups, their community impact and quantifiable contributions, and their management performance.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 05:51 PM   #415
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免淪地產項目議員促訂規限
西九管理局成員 倡委文化界

29/11/2007


西九文化區管理局籌備工作緊密展開,當局擬明年二月向立法會提交管理局的條例草案,七月成立西九籌劃辦公室,目前管理局組成已有雛形,包括管理局成員不超過二十人,其中十五名來自社會不同界別,另有三名官方成員。有立法會議員建議條例應規定五人來自文化藝術界,避免項目變成地產類,甚至外行人管內行人。

立法會西九文娛藝術區發展計劃小組委員會今日討論西九管理局的職權範疇,民政事務局向立法會提交的文件指出,西九管理局負責規劃、設計、發展、營運、管理及保養西九龍文化區內的設施。管理局經諮詢政府後,會訂立一個西九的總綱發展藍圖,訂明各設施的分布,諮詢公眾後,再交由城巿規劃委員會批核。

西九文化區佔地四十公頃,其中區內設有文化藝術設施、休憩用地、公共停車場等用地,政府將以私人協約方式批給西九管理局,但管理局不應在未獲政府批准,以土地作抵押,籌集資金。而區內用作發展住宅、辦公室及酒店用地,會由政府按慣常賣地方式拍賣。

管理局成員組成方面,政府認為管理局成員不應多於二十人,當中包括主席、行政總裁及三名官方成員,以及不多於十五名來自不同界別的成員。由於政府認為,管理局的組合應按不同發展階段而有所不同,例如發展初期需較多建築、工程等專家,營運時則需要文化及管理專家,故不會於法例中明確指定管理局成員的組合。

一筆過申撥216億
融資方面,雖然曾有立法會議員提出,以分期方式支付,但政府認為此舉不利於為發展文化藝術提供穩定環境,而一筆過撥款可讓管理局利用未動用的款項賺取充足投資收入,協助西九文化區自負盈虧,故港府將於明年中向立法會一次過申請二百一十六億元的撥款予管理局。

明年七月,政府會成立西九籌劃辦事處,以統籌各方工作及籌備成立西九管理局,因文化區需配合周邊地區發展,辦事處可在西九文化區籌備及成立的最初幾年,為政府及西九管理局提供所需協調。立法會西九小組委員會副主席涂謹申認為,當局須在條例上訂明管理局成員中不少於五人來自文化藝術界,同時加入立法會代表,避免淪為地產項目。
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Old December 13th, 2007, 05:52 AM   #416
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Gallery owner supports proposed $1b art hub collection
11 December 2007
Hong Kong Standard

Art gallery owner Alice King says she would support plans to purchase art works for the proposed arts hub in West Kowloon.

``If spent wisely and carefully, HK$1 billion is a substantial amount for a contemporary Chinese art collection,'' said King, chairwoman of the Ink Society.

According to the government proposal, HK$1 billion would be spent on purchasing 20-21st century modern artworks including design, visual arts, moving image, popular culture, and Chinese ink paintings.

The government will also inject an extra HK$20 million each year into the arts hub for further purchases of artworks.

King, the sister of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, told The Standard, an annual acquisition budget should be provided as well.

The additional HK$20 million proposed had been criticised as inadequate. HK$1 billion would be enough to purchase about 40 pieces of Chinese master Xu Beihong's works.

King said prices paid for contemporary Chinese art have risen dramatically in the past few years.

``A number of Chinese artists attracted the attention of Western collectors, and their prices have gone up 50 times or more from just five years ago,'' she said.

King said it would be unwise to spend a huge amount to acquire works by artists with no proven track record. ``Instead of chasing works by hottest artists, the museum should focus on art which best represents the evolution of Chinese culture throughout history,'' she said.

She has also suggested a separate museum for ink paintings, saying a museum would would give ink paintings an ``identity, a brand so to speak.''

Meanwhile, Ronald Arculli, convener of the financial advisory group for the arts hub, said HK$1 billion is not a small amount.

``Besides self-purchasing, we hope that there will be donations from cultural and business sectors,'' he said. He did not rule out the possibility of an arts foundation being set up by tycoons as in the West.

The government has proposed a commitment of HK$19.2 billion for the arts hub.
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Old January 8th, 2008, 06:17 AM   #417
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Officials ponder what to call new cultural district
5 January 2008
South China Morning Post

The government is considering a name for the West Kowloon Cultural District inspired by its position on Victoria Harbour.

A senior official said yesterday that the 40-hectare site was on a prime harbourfront location, and a name associating it with the harbour was appropriate.

"Many cultural areas overseas adopt names that link the cultural areas to the regions, such as South Bank [in London], Harbourfront [in Toronto] and Pittsburg Cultural District [in the United States]," Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Esther Leung Yuet-yin said.

Without disclosing the proposed name, Ms Leung said it would be put to legislators in February but the government was still open to different ideas.

She was speaking at a meeting of the Legislative Council's subcommittee on West Kowloon to which representatives of 33 arts and concern groups were invited to express opinions on project plans.

Most agreed with a proposed HK$21.6 billion one-off grant to finance construction costs.

But opinion was divided on how board members of a proposed West Kowloon Cultural District authority should be chosen. The board's duties will include drawing up a master plan for the area and operating arts and cultural facilities.

The Civic Party's Tanya Chan Shuk-chong said half of the 20-member board - which is supposed to represent arts, cultural and various professional sectors - should be elected by eligible voters from the Arts Development Council and the Election Committee of the Chief Executive.

Stephen Chan Ching-kiu, convenor of the People's Panel on West Kowloon, said the board should also include members that represented community interests.

Lisa Wang Ming-chuen, chairwoman of the Chinese Artists Association, said she hoped one member would represent the interests of Cantonese opera.

But Chan Yan-chong, a management sciences professor at City University, said it would be difficult to settle on an election method and a more pragmatic approach would be to ensure paid staff were capable instead of focusing on part-time board members.

Ms Leung said the government would consider proposals to include community leaders on the board and draft legislation concerning the establishment of the authority would be submitted to the Legislative Council next month.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 09:19 AM   #418
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Lawmakers turn to expert help on arts hub's financial assessment
24 January 2008
South China Morning Post

Lawmakers are seeking expert help in understanding the financial assessment of the West Kowloon Cultural District project.

Legislators want the proposed financing approach to be prudent and ensure financial sustainability.

This hinges very much on whether the assessment made by the financial adviser appointed by the government on the financial implications of the arts hub project is sound.

But the government has yet to provide a comprehensive and in-depth explanation on the assessment.

According to a paper prepared for discussion at today's meeting of the Legislative Council subcommittee on the West Kowloon Cultural District project, subcommittee members have asked that an independent specialist adviser be engaged. The adviser would give help in verifying some basic data used to calculate costs and revenue and analyse assumptions adopted for the financial assessment.

Meanwhile, another paper submitted by the Home Affairs Bureau shows the total operating deficit of facilities in the cultural district would be HK$7.6 billion this year, assuming the West Kowloon Cultural District authority started operating later in the year.

The government will seek legislators' approval for HK$21.6 billion to be given to the cultural district authority for the first phase of the 40-hectare project.

The paper submitted by the bureau said the cultural district's flagship museum would attract 1.2 million visitors annually in the years after the first phase opens in 2015, rising to 2 million a year after the second phase opens in 2031.

Under a new financing model, the cultural district authority will rely on income from shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.

The government will inject HK$19 billion - from the sale of more than 40 per cent of the district's gross floor area for residential and commercial development - to pay for construction of 15 performing arts venues, a museum, a convention centre, transport and public facilities.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 01:36 PM   #419
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Gov't Press Release:
Transcript of remarks by CS on the West Kowloon Cultural District Project
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Old February 21st, 2008, 03:10 AM   #420
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Arts hub bill to be tabled amid fears on autonomy, financing
20 February 2008
South China Morning Post

A bill governing establishment of Hong Kong's first cultural authority will be tabled for a first reading by the Legislative Council today, amid queries about whether the proposed body will be guaranteed autonomy.

Legislators, who are expected to pass the bill before the summer, are still unconvinced about the draft bill's details, and are also worried that the authority might be too powerful if it gets a one-off grant of HK$21.6 billion to begin operation.

It is the largest one-off amount sought in the past 10 years, the government confirmed yesterday.

According to the bill, the authority will oversee and operate the 40-hectare arts hub in West Kowloon.

It proposes the authority's board should consist of not more than 20 members, headed by a chairman who might be a government official.

At least five board members should have experience in cultural activities, but all members, including the chairman, will be appointed by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

Apart from managing the arts hub, the authority will also decide the distribution of the open space, arts facilities, commercial and residential areas within the 40-hectare area.

It is expected to submit a development plan for Town Planning Board approval.

Concerns also have been raised at recent meetings of the legislature that the authority as proposed lacks autonomy. Legislators have complained that channels for public participation are insufficient and have expressed concern that if funding is given in one instalment, the future monitoring power of the Legislative Council will be diminished.

However, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Esther Leung Yuet-yin has said the financial status of the authority would be monitored by the Director of Audit, and members of the public could be appointed to committees supporting the board.

Legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civic Party said his party was concerned about the proposed authority's accountability and the level of public participation in planning the arts hub.

"We are not comfortable about endorsing a grant of HK$21.6 billion in one go unless the two issues are adequately resolved," he said.

Choy So-yuk , of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, urged the government to open authority meetings to the public as far as possible.

The authority is expected to be established by the end of the year.
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